Elegy to Mrs Nellie-2012

Well…when at first you don’t succeed getting something posted try two more times….but it’s worth trying again:

I noticed that Mrs. Nellie McWhorter has died. Besides my Mom and Dad she is the person in Trion of whom I have the longest memories. I remember her from when we lived up on sixth street back in the early 1950’s. She was always so nice to the little crazy boy next door. She let me hunt lightning bugs in her back yard, and even gave me a jar to put them in. She told me “Make sure and let them out in the morning, so they don’t die” I had fun with those little bugs that night. Bet I had a hundred of them in that jar! She also would let me play in their driveway with my little old “tootsie” toy cars. The neighbors ALWAYS had a better driveway to play in! She never had a cross word that I can remember. I know that her husband passed away fairly early and left her a widow. I remember seeing her out and about back in the 1970’s after we moved back to Trion, and was surprised she know my name…Back 10 or more years ago she started driving her little blue Ford sedan down to Trade Day and selling knick knacks and fried pies to make a little money to make it through the month on. A lot of elderly people did and are doing that. I got to renew my friendship with her, because I loved the pies and I hate I didn’t know who to ask what had happened to her. I have been missing her, and now know we will continue to miss her. It happens quite often with that group of older folks, one of whom I am fast becoming, who come down to set up and make a few little dollars. RIP Mrs. Nellie…you will be missed.

Once Upon a Cloudy Day

Once Upon a Cloudy Day….

One of the most beautiful days of my life was sometime back in the summer of 1960. It’s a vivid memory of a very ordinary act.

It was a day not unlike the ones we have had lately. Lots of blue sky and big puffy clouds in the sky. The blue was a deep azure, something which seemed unusual to me that day at the age of 10. The clouds were bright white and as puffy as giant marshmallows and were assuming all kinds of neat shapes.

We had a lot of clover in our side yard, and it wasn’t terribly hot, so I went and lay down in one of those gently cool and wonderful smelling plots of grass, and looked straight up into the air. I can understand why the honey bees love the clover. It smelled like the world itself…all wrapped up in a bevy of tiny little white blossoms. I imagined each white cloud which floated by as something which existed in the world. There was an elephant, one shaped like an arrowhead, and another like Casper the Friendly Ghost’s head (OK…I read too many comic books…) I didn’t think much about anything else. I think I kind of just “zoned out” for about an hour and lay there with both my eyes and my mouth wide open.

I didn’t care what the people in the rest of the world were doing right then. I didn’t know anything about war or killing yet. I hadn’t even heard the name “Vietnam” and I had no cares about what was going on in Washington D.C. I only cared about what was happening at that moment. Right then was the only thing which mattered to me!

That was the last time I ever remember doing that. I think it’s the closest I ever came to just absolutely becoming a part and parcel with the world around me. I believe that’s why it still seems fresh in my memory, even though it’s been 53 years ago.

I think about it sometimes when the sky is an azure blue and the clouds are all puffy and big, and I see a big patch of clover. I wonder if it would be the same. I would probably just lay there and think about things which I “need” to do. Tasks which have to be done.

I guess all I can ask for is to have a patch of clover planted over my head one of these days. Then I’ll have a long, long time to look up at the sky. I love that day though, and still remember it with fondness.

Facebook. Friends or Frienemies?

What can one man do to make things better? I’ve been paying close attention to this social media tidal wave since it first hit. I was on “My Space” back when AOL was the big deal, and I jumped onboard Facebook in 2009. I’ve made some friends here in the virtual world…friends I have never physically met.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say? I have stumbled upon my virtual friends mainly from a commonality of shared social, cultural, and political values. Therefore, most of my virtual friends think pretty much like I do on those issues. While that’s not a bad thing altogether, I think it has led many of us away from dealing with each other in the real world.

I have differences of opinion with people I have known all my life, and I would never have known it if not for this constant spotlight we put ourselves into. We are trapped by the ease in which we can see and read everyone’s post. We are appalled at times at what we see on this virtual page, perhaps so much in disagreement with what is written, that we are angered to the point that we “unfriend” a long time acquaintance or a family member. That didn’t used to be a big thing back in the early days of this media, but now it’s akin to a slap in the face, and a request for a duel. It’s telling someone that you have known forever that you don’t want to see what they have to say, or what they do anymore.

It’s a weird situation.

I think in all this time since 2009, I cannot remember changing anybody’s mind about anything to do with the above mentioned attributes which are discussed so much on these pages. I believe we don’t change people’s minds here on this media, but instead simply galvanize them in the mindset in which they already dwell.

I am more certain to have changed a few opinions by talking with people in person, face to face…then by anything I have written here. If it’s political especially, I’m simply preaching to one set of people, and making the other set mad.

I see on my pages, where I pledge from time time to simply stick to what I think I do best…some photos, some simple stories…but then I get sucked back into the vortex by something outrageous which happens in our country or in our world. Lord help me, it’s hard not to. This medium is designed to keep you “activated” about issues, and it has become more and more filled with people, both fake and real, whose purpose is to keep us stirred up, and divided against each other.

I have taken this week to honestly and truly try to judge how this media takes people that I know are good people, and turns them…turns me…into agitators against each other. I’m sickened by what I’ve seen and read. I’m so repulsed by a lot of things which I have read and seen just on my Facebook friends pages, that it’s hard to express. I really hope everyone will take a look at what you post and share, and think about the fact that many, many people see what you share and use it to form an opinion about the type of person you are, regardless of if you really ARE that type of person. I could site specific examples, but Lordy…I’m not going there.

Remember that if you share something, lots of people see it. You may not get a “like” or a comment, but it gets seen a lot. I know some people don’t care, but I do. I want to get off of this train of constantly having to keep up with posts and comments, and stories….which, while many are important…few are things which I can personally change. I’m tired of feeling like I have to toe some kind of line with my friends, out of some kind of imaginary obligation to let them know I’m right there behind them, to back them up. It’s exhausting. It’s also unnecessary. None of y’all need my opinions to make your day. By now all of my Facebook friends know about what I’m for and what I’m against.

I’ve said all that simply to say this: We are all different, and have different opinions and philosophies. I hope we can try to spend less time arguing about them here, and instead spend more quality time with our loved ones, and our friends with who we physically deal. I’m looking forward to our 50th class reunion party in July, where I hope to be shaking hands, hugging, and speaking about old times with some people I love dearly. To any of those people, and really to most all of the people who I know, I offer my sincere wish that we can continue to discuss life, but do it in a friendly manner.

I remain as I am, and will be…yours truly.

Acquisition is our Problem #2

Yesterday’s Trade Day at Summerville had to set a record for the most people I have EVER seen set up and selling. TONS of people! The problem was that there were NOT nearly as many people buying! Dealers were buying from each other…but the number of people coming in to just buy things was VERY low. Dealers had piles and piles of “STUFF” on their tables…a lot of it very similar in nature. It’s the American curse. We have bought and bought things which we “thought” we just had to have and now, when people are out of jobs, low on money, can’t get loans, etc., they are having to sell this unnecessary “stuff” to try and get some money. Problem is, that of all the things which people brought to sell, 90% of it probably went back home with them. There are “thrift” stores popping up all over the place to sell the “stuff” that people finally get tired of hauling around themselves and trying to sell. There are “estate” and yard sales by the dozens every weekend during the “good weather” months. All this leads me to conclude that there is something very basic and fundamental wrong in this country. We have succumbed to the dogma of “consumerism” with the TV blaring out at us to continually “buy this and buy that” newest product until we really believe we cannot do without what they are telling us we need. We have reached a very dangerous crossroad in America where something basic must change if we are to survive as a country. Americans must attend to their NEEDS and NOT their WANTS. It will cause a shift in the way things are done, not only in the manufacturing sector of the country, but possibly even in the way this country if actually governed. Will we do it? Probably not. We will probably all just continue to drag our “stuff” we don’t want to the flea markets, or have a yard sale, or default on our storage building rentals and let the “storage wars” guys buy it out. That might be the easiest and best idea…at least then it would be THEIR problem!

Things my Daddy Taught Me

Things my Daddy tried to teach me:

1. If you are going to do something do it right.

2. Everybody is created equal, nobody is better than anybody else.

3. Don’t waste food or mess your new shoes up.

Things my Daddy used to say:

1. (6 a.m. on school days) “Hit the deck, Hit the deck”

2. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out!

3. “You missed a spot, right there”

4. “Sometimes you don’t have enough sense to get in out of the rain.”

5. “Huh?” (After 40 years of working in a Cotton mill)

There’s so much more. So many memories. My Dad was a funny guy in both senses of the word. He was a different man altogether in his older years than in his prime. A kinder, gentler, and more loving man took the place of the one who was more driven to prove his worth to other people who had doubted his abilities. He said “I love you” more often and always had the most tender spots for his grandchildren and greatgrand’s.

He was as good a Dad as I could have asked for, and more than I deserved in some ways.

Our Problem is Acquisition

America has a big problem with stuff. I realize this a lot after looking around on weekends and seeing hundreds of yard sales, and on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Trade day, where hundreds of people bring tons of stuff week after week. We have grown to be a country where a lot of emphasis is put on stuff, and how much of it you have.

I really think the most important things in life are our spiritual and mental welfare and our interaction with our family. Then, the things we really need are few. I don’t mean that people should all become some sort of super minimalists…there is no harm in having things that make our lives comfortable or easier.

The real trick is to not be fooled into making acquisition a way of life. I know this truth not just from observation, but from living it. I have acquired WAY too much “stuff” in my life and it’s a regretful thing. I have only just lately come to the realization that most of these acquisitions need to be severely reduced. I’ll assure you that the “getting rid of” part is a lot harder than the acquisition part!

Sorry to say, but my kids may end up having to deal with part of the mess. I apologize in advance to them for that.

The Brain

The BRAIN….a writing from 2004

(Warning…this is rather long….read if you have time!)

I wonder, what is the first memory that anybody can remember? Its funny how that works isn’t it. But, that’s my question for tonight. What’s your first memory? That will eventually lead me to my other question.

See, the reason it interests me is that I often wonder if everyone else’s brain functions about the same as mine. Most of my childhood memories are rather fuzzy around the edges. Do you know what I mean? They are sort of like trying to look at something right after you have just woke up, and still have a ton of “sleep” in your eyes. Or maybe it’s like trying to remember a dream that you had the night before, during which you woke up. The dream is really clear when you first wake up, so if you EVER want to remember it well you should take the advice of dream specialists and write it down right then. If not, it’s going to be fuzzy in the morning. Fuzzy around the edges, just like those earliest memories. Sometimes I wonder if some of my memories are not really dreams. Is that possible? I think it might be. As we go through life, and we live through so many different things, it may just be that some of our more vivid dreams get mixed up in our brain with reality. That would be a hoot wouldn’t it?

Well for starters, the very first thing I remember is having to go potty really, really bad. We lived in a house back in 1953, when I was three years old that was originally a duplex that had been turned into a regular house. I remember that it confused me, because both sides of the house seemed to be the same, except the living room furniture was in one side and the bedroom furniture in the other. I remember thinking that the rooms were the same and that when I blinked my eyes, or went to sleep (especially if I got carried from one side to the other during that time) that the furniture was rearranging itself! Strange, no? But, back to pottying. I had to go really, really bad, and nobody was around to “direct” me to the correct place, so down went the pants and…..well..you can guess the rest. The part I remember the most, was getting my rear end tanned by my Pop! I never, ever did that again!

I also remember having a pair of Easter bunnies that same year. Dad brought them home in a box, and we took them out back to eat grass and they got away from us and ran up under the car. It took Daddy forever to catch them, and I didn’t know what some of the words he was using meant, but I used one of those words later on when I rode my tricycle down the front steps. I got in BIG trouble for that!

I can’t remember what happened to those rabbits though. I think Dad probably got tired of them making a mess and got rid of them one night while the furniture was changing itself around.

Another vivid thing during that same year I believe was during the summer we would catch “lightning bugs” (fireflies to a lot of you) We would put them in a jar and I would take them to a dark place and try to use them like a flashlight! Usually, we would let them go before going in for the night, but once we forgot and I came out the next morning, and couldn’t figure out why the bugs wouldn’t light up. I didn’t realize that after being in a closed jar with no hole all night long, they were NEVER going to light up again! I never caught anymore lighting bugs after that, because I never wanted to take a chance on forgetting about them, and have them laying lifeless in the bottom of the jar the next morning.

I know that I lived the first two or three years of my life at my Grandparent’s house. My Dad didn’t get out of the Navy until 1953, so my Mom and I stayed with them. I have seen pictures of myself at that age, but try as I might, try so very hard, I cannot bring up any memories of any of those times before 1953 when we moved back to Trion, where I still live today. I wish I could remember those times. What would really be neat would be to be able to remember anything and everything that ever happened to you. To just be able to sit down and say, “Now I am going to remember December of 1956 when I was six years old, and what happened at Christmas that year!” That would be a miracle wouldn’t it? Scientists say that everything is stored right up there in that little 3 pounds of gray jelly we call our brain. That wonderful, misunderstood and not fully understood organ that runs us. I have tried everything from meditation to “commanding” my brain to remember, to closing my eyes and straining and squinting, like the Oriental guy on the program “Hero’s” does when he stops time. I still can’t make it happen! Are all of you folks like that, or is it just me!!! I would like to know, so I can claim a deficiency if I am the only one.

Memory and the brain. They really are a strange thing. I remember one time when my Grandfather was in his last year of life. He didn’t know anybody, or anything much. When we went to visit him, he would just sit around and kind of “babble” like a tape recorder randomly playing back snippets of conversation recorded over years and years of time. Nothing made much sense. He always seemed like he was glad to see us, and sad to see us go…but…things were just not perking right. My Grandma was sitting there one day and talking about one of their relatives, and Grandpa spoke up all of the sudden and said: “Loyd’s dead” My Grandma answered him back telling him how crazy he was, because she had just talked to her brother Loyd early that morning. That afternoon when we took Grandma back home, she found out that Loyd had died right around the time we were all at the Nursing home. This was sometime back in 1989 if I remember correctly.

So, the brain’s funny isn’t it. I would have bet you a million dollars that Grandpa couldn’t count to ten anymore, but somehow, someway he knew his old childhood hunting buddy had died.

Maybe not being able to recall everything that has ever happened to us is a blessing. We might NOT be able to be selective and just remember the good things. We might also HAVE to remember the bad things too. There are a LOT of those things that I would rather keep shoved back into the tiny recesses and crevasses of my mind. Yes, my mind. When all is said and done, it is what we are isn’t it? Even when Grandpa’s was taken mostly away, he was given a gift of sorts to replace what had been taken from him. I guess our spirit sort of resides there. It’s about the only part of us they can’t replace still! Shoot, you can have a ticker transplant and go right on being yourself, but a diving accident can turn you into something you would rather not think about! It makes you wonder about all those people who do have that kind of damage. Have their souls, what made them who they were, already fled the premises and just left the empty shell behind?

Well, there’s the challenge for those of you who care to take it up. Can your remember everything? What was your first memory? Would you like to be able to have total recall? When our old brain is gone, like Grandpa’s was, are we still us? I think so.

Oh by the way. Does anybody remember a Science Fiction thriller from the 50’s named “Donavan’s Brain?” It was about this guy whose brain was taken out of him while he was still alive, and put into this thing that looked all the world like a ten gallon fish aquarium! They had all kind of wires hooked up to it, and had it connected to a computer looking thing. Ol’ Donovan’s Brain could still “communicate” and eventually took over some folks, if I remember right, making ‘em do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It was a hoot! I hope to heck they NEVER learn to do that. I hope they never learn to “store” our minds on computers either. Never able to “download” the electrical impulses from our brains onto some kind of infernal storage unit, to be put into a program so we can still communicate with the living. I don’t wanna’ be a machine. When it’s time for me to go, I want to go. I wonder, what will my LAST thought be? Whatever it is, I won’t be able to share it with any of you guys that are left behind, so I guess I better concentrate on sharing what I want to now, while I still can!!

My Town


It was a fine hot day today. One of the kind of days we would have snuck up to the old boat dock and went swimming in the Chattooga river. That water was nice and cold, even in July because it had spring water running in it not too far back up stream. A lot of us boys spent time there. From the time I could swim at ten years old, until I left to go to college I went there once or twice a year.

We practiced baseball twice a week and had two games a week to play. I hated Saturday practices after I started playing golf. By the time morning practice was over…You were hot and sweaty, thirsty and tired. We still hiked up to the Trion Golf course and played nine holes though. Our Daddy’s were members through the mill and we got to play for free. We’d come back home…most of the time one of our Dad’s would come and get us…as it was usually after four when we finished.

On the weekends, we went to Chamlees Skating rink. We hung around, listened to the music and tried to get the girls. Sometimes we did something right and ended up skating holding hands with one of the girls. I so remember the songs on the “box” “Runaway”, “Tellstar” ,”Teen Angel”, “Leader of the Pack”, “It’s my Party”‘ and on and on. Songs which, if I hear them now transport me directly back there in time and space. It was a wonderful place…a refuge for kids in a small town with nothing else to do.

I would go fishing in the mornings at the river and sometimes stayed all day. We dug our worms from under the wagon bridge, big old juicy green colored worms. We fished for catfish and carp….My Uncle called them “bugle mouth bass” We took our catch up to the black folks in town and sold them. I know several of them told us they loved the carp. They loved us boys, and we loved them. There was no animosity or fear and hatred…just kids selling their catch to somebody who wanted them.

All the yards in our little town were cut neatly, with neatly trimmed bushes and flowers, and well cared for vegetable gardens in the back yards. The men would be out in their yards in their sleeveless t-shirts cutting that grass every day. They used to run a contest called “The yard of the month” for the neatest, most well kept yard. It was an honor to win…not a joke. My Dad won it one time in the years they ran it. He was happy as a pig in slop, and hung that little metal sign right out in the front yard. “YARD OF THE MONTH” emblazoned in blue letters on a white enamel background.

Summer seemed to go on and on….catching fireflies, chasing low flying bats with sticks trying to knock them down. Neighbors actually sitting on each other’s porch and talking…getting to know each other…their troubles, their joys, their hope for the future.

Fall would eventually roll around, and I was excited about going back to school, seeing friends I’d missed all Summer. We’d take a special trip yo Rome so I could pick out new school supplies. One big multi subject notebook, pencils, one or two good pens, some three ring notebook paper. The tension was palpable the night before the first day of class. Who would be the teacher for my classes, who would be in the classes…especially which girls. How would life be for that school year? Truth is…I loved trekking up and down those old wooden halls. I loved the camaraderie of my close friendships. The hard day’s, the easy days…I loved them all.

I think about my friends and classmates who have passed on. I miss them, even though I seldom saw some of them. We all shared something very special during all our seasons here in Trion. Most of us started out together in first grade, and went all the way through graduation. You don’t see that much. We were brothers and sisters, best friends, worst enemies, boyfriends and girlfriends…And most of all kindred spirits of what it was like to grow up in a little cotton mill town in Southern America, USA.

Spring Lizards on Summer Days.

Spring Lizards and Summer Days- 2007 (re-edited today)

Nowadays at my age, the long hot summer days are just not as much fun as they used to be when I was a kid. Back then we really had nice long breaks from school. None of that six or seven weeks out, and then right back in the school building. Back in “the old days” we had three FULL months out for summer break.

None of that year round school for us old timers! May 31 rolled around, and it’s see ya’ later to the teachers until the first week of September….Yahooo!! Heck, that was so long, I forgot most of what I’d learned the year before in school! I think that’s why the first six weeks every school year back in the good old days were “review” weeks. “Reteaching” weeks for some pretty good school teachers. But, we made it through, and I wouldn’t take anything for the memories of those long, hot summer days back when I was young.

I tell you, spring and summers were the best back in the 50’s and 60s’.

I would go to the old wooden toy box back in my room, and starting digging down to the bottom, looking for my old worn out, smelly leather baseball glove with “Pee Wee” Reece’s name engraved in it. I don’t know how I ended up with Pee Wee, as I never played a lick of ball in the infield. I was always an outfielder.

I tried out for third base once, but after I had stopped the first four hard bouncer’s that came my way with my face instead of my glove, the coach thought it might be safer to put me in left field. I agree with his decision.

I liked left field. It was one of those positions where you could kind of day dream a little. Most everything that came out that way was either an easy pop fly, or a one bouncer. I was a cinch at catching those. None of that “hot corner” stuff for me.

I once was standing out in left field during a game and looking down at the ground trying to spot any four leaf clovers that might be growing there. I heard the loud crack of the bat, and looked up to see the baseball headed over my head. Way over my head. I didn’t want to look completely stupid, so I turned around and stuck my old glove out and ran as fast as I could towards the fence. The ball dropped right into the webbing of my glove. I never saw it until it did. I heard a cheer go up from the stands, and when we came in, I got more pats on the back, and attaboys then I had ever gotten before. I just said “I had it all the way”

I could never bring myself to disappoint all those people by telling them it was just pure luck.

The other great thing about warm weather was spring lizard and craw dad hunting at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house. When warm weather hit, we would go up there a lot more often. It was difficult during the winter time, because there were only two bedrooms downstairs at their house, which meant the remainder of the guests, had to sleep upstairs. During the winter time, sleeping upstairs was just like sleeping outside. There was NO heat. I spent many a winter night with 10 quilts piled on top of me, unable to turn over, but desperately trying to conserve what little body heat was emanating from me in order to be alive the next morning. I always managed to do it somehow.

So, besides at Christmas, I didn’t like Winter time visiting at the old folk’s house!

But with spring and warm weather coming, there was the promise of fishing, and in order to fish there had to be bait. This meant my favorite activities of digging in the dirt for worms, and turning over the rocks down in the little fast running creek in front of the folk’s house for Spring lizards and Crawdads.

The only draw back to trying to catch a bucket full of these water dwelling creatures was that they were also favorites of the snakes that prowled the banks of that same creek. I was never really too afraid of snakes when I was a kid until after my Grandpa’s Uncle “Lark” Davenport killed a rattlesnake one day that he stretched across the old dirt road leading up to Grandpa’s house.

He stuck its head end in the bank on one side, and its tail end in the dirt bank on the other side. Now, that little old road was narrow, but I estimate it was at least 7 feet across, so my respect for the snakes in those parts increased tremendously after that. I asked Uncle “Lark” how he killed it, and told me he cut its head off with a hoe while he was out in his corn crib. Apparently the rattler was stocking up on some of the rats that always frequented that place. “If he hadn’t been a rattler I’d have let him be,” said Uncle Lark. I’d have let him be anyway, I think. He would have owned the corn crib after that. Rats and all.

Some of those spring lizards that we used to catch back then were as big as small snakes. Imagine turning over a big old rock, and seeing something black wiggling around that’s about a foot long. Would you stick your hand down in there and grab it? I sure did, and laughed about it the whole time. “If the bass don’t bite that,” I thought “then it might bite the bass!” Either way, we get the fish.

The crawdads were harder to catch then the spring lizards. Have you ever seen one of those little boogers take off? They are like a backwards rocket! I don’t know how they do it, but when they get scared they shoot water out their rear ends, start flapping their tails and away they go. You had to be good at estimating where they were GOING to be, not where they had been, in order to catch them. I never had the least idea that humans ate those things when I was a kid. The first time I went to Louisiana as an adult, and someone tried to serve me a dish made with Crawdads, I got kind of nauseated. After I tasted it though, it wasn’t half bad. I kind of like Etouffe’ now.

Yep, that’s how I feel today with all this heat in the air. I remember how cold that creek water was, even on the hottest of June, July and August days. I remember how I would even dare to reach down and bring a handful of that pungent water up to my mouth and drink it in deeply.

My blood is partially made from that creek water, and my soul is partially lodged in that mountain land.

That little old creek is still there, but I don’t know what the new owners of the land would think about an old man tromping down the middle of their creek with a Styrofoam bucket and yelling yahoo every time he came up with a lizard.

I wonder if there are even any left?


Instead of College degrees are our young ones going to have to go in a different direction in the future? Do we need courses or degrees in self reliance, self sufficiency, and how to live off the land? Do we need more carpenters, plumbers, electricians, beekeepers, farmers, midwifes, loggers, lumberworkers, animal husbandry experts, surveyers, builders, masons, etc., etc., and fewer people in all aspects of “technology?” I believe we are at a crossroads in our country…perhaps in our world. Seven billion human beings are a LOT of people for this world to support. Nature tends to notice when things are terribly out of balance and acts to correct the imbalance. No…I’m not a “nutty” survivalist, I just try to be a practical thinker. I also do NOT hate chickens…I love them in a crock pot with some potatoes and onions, but I don’t particularly care for them as neighbors….especially at 6 am in the morning.